Tag Archives: Ludacris

Jon M. Chu Double Feature Opens BAM 3-D Festival—Step Up 3D and Bieber On The Same Night

HOLLYWOOD, CA - MARCH 28:  Director Jon M. Chu arrives at the Premiere of Paramount Pictures' "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" at TCL Chinese Theatre on March 28, 2013 in Hollywood, California.  (Photo by Jason Kempin/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Jon M. Chu

Jon M. Chu

BAMcinematek opened it’s latest film series 3D IN THE 21ST CENTURY at the Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Rose Cinemas  on Friday night.

The festival explores the state of the art in recent stereo film, stating “The unprecedented resurgence of 3D in the last decade has expanded the visual and emotional possibilities of cinema in frequently wondrous—and sometimes divisive—new ways. At its best, the technology creates almost hallucinatory immersive landscapes and retina-dazzling surprises with an immediate visceral impact. From big-budget blockbusters to high-concept mind-benders by arthouse icons, this first-of-its-kind series surveys recent films that showcase the full range of stereoscopic cinema’s expressive potential.”

stepup3d_613x463Kicking off the opening night of the series was an eye-popping pair of films, both from director Jon M. Chu: STEP UP 3D and JUSTIN BIEBER NEVER SAY NEVER.

The BAM site says about STEP UP 3D: “This visually dazzling hip-hop musical gives filmed dance an innovative 3D update. The wisp of a plot—in which a ragtag group of young New York City hoofers compete to win an epic dance battle—is just a pretext for the nonstop stream of exhilarating dance sequences, in which the novel use of three dimensions gives the breathtaking displays of popping, locking, and spinning a visceral jolt.”

“This is jump-n-jive cinema done right, with cinematography to match.”
—Keith Uhlich, Time Out New York
justinbieberneversaynever_613x463
Regarding JUSTIN BIEBER NEVER SAY NEVER, BAM says: “Bieber is bigger than life in this slick monument to a pop culture sensation. Part behind-the-scenes documentary, part Madison Square Garden concert spectacular, it’s all engagingly engineered to drive legions of tweeny bopper fans to hysterics. For non-Beliebers, it’s a frighteningly effective glimpse of the teen-idol-generating hype machine.”

The film also features Usher, Miley Cyrus, Ludacris, Jaden Smith, Sean Kingston, Boyz II Men, and Scooter Braun.justin_bieber_never_say_never

BAMcinématek presents classic films, premieres, festivals, and retrospectives, with appearances by filmmakers, actors, and critics.

BAM Rose Cinemas (BRC) opened in 1998 to offer Brooklyn audiences an alternative to the standard multiplex, screening independent films that might otherwise not play in the borough and making BAM the only performing arts center in the country with two mainstage theaters and a multiplex cinema. In July 1999, beginning with a series celebrating the work of Spike Lee, BAMcinématek was born as Brooklyn’s only daily year-round repertory film program.

Over the course of its decade-long history, BAMcinématek has presented major retrospectives by such well-known auteurs as Michelangelo Antonioni, Shohei Imamura, Manoel de Oliveira, Luchino Visconti, and Vincente Minnelli and has introduced New York audiences to contemporary filmmakers, such as Pedro Costa and Apichatpong Weerasethakul. In addition, BAMcinématek has programmed the first US retrospectives of directors Arnaud Desplechin, Nicolas Winding Refn, and Hong Sang-soo, among others. BAMcinématek has also featured many exciting marquee guests, including Gena Rowlands, Bill Murray, Cate Blanchett, Robert Altman, Jim Jarmusch, Milos Forman, David Byrne, Jonathan Demme, Isabella Rossellini, Paul Thomas Anderson, Peter Bogdanovich, Larry Clark, D.A. Pennebaker, Catherine Deneuve, and many more.

Furious 7 Is Fastest Film to Earn $1 Billion: Why?

Furious+7+Movie+Poster The Magnificent Seven: Dwayne Johnson, Michelle Rodriquez, Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Tyrese Gibson, Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges and Jordana Brewster in Furious 7.

Furious 7 has grossed  $1 Billion at the global boxoffice faster than any other film. It reached the milestone after 17 days in release. In doing so, it broke the record previously shared by Avatar, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, and The Avengers. Each of those films reached $1 Billion in 19 days.

What has driven this success?

THE ACTION

The Christian Science Monitor asks: “So what makes the film series so successful? It’s not reviews from critics  – some moviegoers will always want to see fast cars and fights…” David Sims in The Atlantic agrees: “From Fast Five on, each film has thrived by trying to top its’ predecessors outrageous stunts and balletic set pieces.” Sandy Schaefer of Screenrant calls the Furious films a “Superhero franchise in disguise.”

And yet, audiences seem to accept the stunts as being grounded in reality. No caped crusaders or aliens or genetic mutations explain the incredible feats. Schaefer again: “the crew… must wrestle with matters like parental responsibilities, love, greed vs. generosity, and their obligations to other people, all of which are presented in a context that reflects life in the 21st century.” These characters are real people, so the crazy things they do must be possible. The moviegoer can think “I could do that.”

DIVERSITY

Time notes: “In any other series, a handsome white guy like Paul Walker would be the sole hero…  And ostensibly, Walker was the star of the first two films. But by the fifth installment, he was just one of an impressively diverse entourage that included an Italian-American man, a Japanese man, two black men, a Latino woman and an Israeli woman.” The cast of each installment includes someone for everyone; no matter who you are, you can find a character to follow.

But it isn’t simply that there are many ethnic groups or nationalities represented. These actors also bring loyal fans.

Dwayne Johnson earned the nickname “Franchise Viagra” after joining the ensemble in Fast Five. That installment improved by 72% at the box office over the previous film in the series. Perhaps his added muscle and action credibility contributed to the energy that he brought, but he also appeals to the Pacific rim and urban audiences in North America. 150406093858-furious-7-fire-780x439                                                  Dwayne Johnson in Furious 7.

Chris ‘Ludacris’ Bridges boasts an army of worldwide fans due to his phenomenal success as a hip hop recording artist.. He has sold 14 million albums, and those fans like to come to the movies too. 2011-topic-music-ludacris                                                                     Ludacris.

The women are strong characters as well. The Atlantic points out that “although it feels ridiculous to say this of a brand that never shies away from featuring a montage or two of girls frolicking in bikinis, its female characters are strong, flinty, and individually defined. While other major franchises like Marvel struggle to incorporate women without reducing them to helpful sidekicks, heroines like Letty Ortiz (Michelle Rodriguez) felt fully developed from the get-go.” Time also applauds the treatment of women characters, saying “as it turns out, women can drive fast too. Fast & Furious has been surprisingly progressive when it comes to gender equality. Letty throws a punch as hard as Dominic. And when we meet an attractive female hacker (played by Game of Thrones’ Nathalie Emmanuel) in the latest installment, one male character is quick to admonish another who assumes that only nerdy boys can be programmers.” No surprise that 49% of the audience in North America is female.

Significantly, 75% of the audience in North America is non-Caucasian; over half of that amount is Hispanic. “The importance of diversity of the ensemble cast in the Fast and Furious franchise has been an integral part of the success of the brand,” says Rentrak box office analyst Paul Dergarabedian, as quoted in the Hollywood Reporter. “There is literally someone within the cast that is relatable on some level to nearly every moviegoer around the world, and this has paid big dividends at the box office.”

A crucial factor is the equal treatment of the cast of characters. The Guardian observes that Paul Walker was critical to that dynamic: “F&F could never have been the anomaly that it is – a racially egalitarian franchise – unless its lead-male white actor had been willing to accept his place in the ensemble. Walker never shook the boat, and seemed happy where he was as the series grew in popularity and became more ethnically predicated.”

GLOBAL APPEAL

Furious 7 features additional cast members Djimon Hounsou (born in Benin, West Africa), Thai martial artist Tony Jaa, Game of Thrones actress Nathalie Emmanuel (England), Elsa Pataky (Spain), Ali Fazal (India) and Jason Statham (England.) All appeal to international audiences. These international stars strengthen the world wide marquee value of the film, and are further supported by the international storylines and locales featured in the franchise.

The Atlantic charts the growth: “Fourteen years ago, the series started as a caper about illegal street racing in L.A. But over subsequent sequels, it offered up an adrenaline-pumping heist thriller, and eventually a bombastic action epic about international super-spies who just happen to drive cars really, really well,” becoming in the process “a global spy caper…” with “a hint of James Bond.”

FF3 was set in Tokyo, film number 4 traveled to the Dominican Republic and Mexico, Fast Five took place in Rio de Janeiro, FF6 has action in Monaco, London and Spain, and Furious 7 goes to Abu Dhabi. Yet the center of this universe remains Los Angeles. Exotic locations around the world are thus united with LA in the cinema sphere, admitting  viewers everywhere into the most exclusive pop culture club on the planet: Hollywood.

FAMILY

Ultimately, the diverse elements are held together by one core concept: family.

“While the ‘family’ of the Fast & the Furious crew is almost entirely blended, the symbolic significance of the unit has remained consistent throughout the ever-morphing series—it’s understood that these characters have each other’s backs in some fundamental, magical way,” writes Sims in The Atlantic.

He continues, “it’s certainly why these films have maintained such consistent charm over the years. No doubt future installments will be produced even without (Paul Walker), given the certain financial bonanza that awaits Furious 7. But the key to their success will be conveying that these stunt-driving international men (and women) of mystery are a genuine, live-in clan. As long as that continues, Fast & Furious can keep driving forever.”

Schaefer of Screenrant sums it up: “what really makes Dom as much a superhero as Batman or Iron Man – even without a costume (we’ll say his odd-fitting tight shirts don’t count) – is his higher moral calling and devotion to family.”

The right to belong to this group is extended to all, according to Vin Diesel, who told Entertainment Weekly: “It doesn’t matter what nationality you are. As a member of the audience, you realize you can be a member of that ‘family,’” he says.

Happy Birthday Ludacris!

105871-ludacris_617_409September 11 marked the 37th birthday of Chris Bridges, better known to the world as Ludacris. The Atlanta rapper has enjoyed one of the most diverse and successful careers in hip-hop history. As one of the most influential rappers from the Dirty South, Ludacris has sold millions of records, has had three albums debut at #1 on the Billboard Charts and has won three Grammy Awards in his career. (XXL Mag.)

His first five albums all achieved multi-platinum status, and his sixth album went platinum. In addition, he has 4 albums that peaked at number one on the Billboard 200 charts.

Ludacris has received seventeen Grammy Award nominations, and has also received twelve nominations from the BET Awards, winning two.

He has also won Screen Actors Guild, Critic’s Choice, and MTV Awards. Ludacris is the co-founder of Disturbing tha Peace, an imprint distributed by Def Jam Recordings. Luda has also been a successful actor appearing in films such as Fast & Furious series, Hustle & Flow and the Oscar-winning Crash. (Wikipedia.)ifwt_Luda-Day-Weekend-MAINJust before his birthday, Ludacris and his Disturbing tha Peace record label played against Lil Wayne and his label Young Money in a celebrity basketball game at the Georgia State Sports Arena. The basketball game is part of Ludacris’ 9th annual LudaDay Weekend, which raises money for local community charities. The five-day event  kicked off  with a bowling event with appearances by NBA player Dwight Howard, singer Ne-Yo and Angela Simmons. Since 2005, LudaDay has brought out numerous celebrities from Justin Bieber, Kevin Durant, Taraji P. Henson, Gabrielle Union, Chris Brown and Vin Diesel. (Washington Times.)

Ludacris also co-wrote and performs on Justin Bieber’s hit single BABY, one of the most popular songs of all time. According to the May 17, 2013 issue of Billboard, “Bieber’s song “Baby” featuring Ludacris becomes the highest-certified single in history now that the RIAA incorporates on-demand streaming numbers into its Gold and Platinum certifications for digital singles…”Baby” is now 12-times platinum.” The official music video has been viewed over 1 billion times on YouTube, and is the second most viewed video of all time on the video site, (surpassed only by Gangnam Style by Psy, which holds the top spot.)

Happy Birthday, Luda!ludacris_51